Underground shops, #wceu and burning rubbish

I wrote about Spain, I wrote about Istanbul so it seemed only right to write about my ten days in Sofia, Bulgaria. The first thing that happened was that I got scammed like a massive sucker by my taxi driver and charged €70 for a ride that should’ve cost around €8. So much for a street-wise South African dominating life in strange cities!

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Despite this not so nice start, the rest of my time was sweet. I stayed in an AirBNB and then the Hilton for WordCamp Europe and had fun doing a little exploring between Woo work. It wasn’t a holiday as such, but I did squeeze in a visit to the Art Gallery, walk around town, some meals out and an emergency trip to the dentist.

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After feeling so proud and responsible for getting travel insurance, it was kind of annoying that the filling I got was below threshold. I should have gone big and made them pay for a whole bunch of tooth-work while I was at it. But truth be told, I kind of did just want to get the heck out of there at the time. Thankfully, my AirBNB host was a champion and helped me find somewhere to go. One of the things he explained were the below street level stores that are dotted around the CBD. You have to kneel down to get to them!

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Sofia is an interesting city and not like anywhere I’ve been before. One can’t help but feel the hangover from before ‘The Changes’ evidenced in many small and more obvious ways. For example the public transport, ancient yellow trolleys that rumble past on wires and are the only way of getting around!

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Also the overtly communist architecture; WWII memorabilia scattered on tables between gilded icon paintings at the flea market; the lack of tourist-friendly setup in the overall infrastructure; old signage and crackled pavements and so on. It is a beautiful place, but there was an undergirding of sadness, suffering and survival that left me feeling contemplative.

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The conference itself was great (read my post about it on the WooThemes blog) and it was fun to meet some of my colleagues face to face. Arriving back in London sure felt good, and like home, but also not which was odd. Even more odd was waking up to a pile of rubbish burning serenely outside our doorstep. The world sure is a varied and interesting place.

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